A rare parasite which burrows into host fish before eating and replacing their tongues with itself has been discovered off the coast of Jersey.
Fishermen found the isopod, a type of louse, inside a weaver fish. Marine researcher Paul Chambers, who was part of the fishing party describes the moment the isopod was found:
“When we emptied the fish bag out there at the bottom was this incredibly ugly looking isopod.
“Really quite large, really quite hideous – if you turn it over its got dozens of these really sharp, nasty claws underneath and I thought ‘that’s a bit of a nasty beast’.
“I struggled for weeks to find an identification for this thing until, quite by chance I stumbled across something that looked similar in a Victorian journal.
“Apparently there’s not too much ill effect to the fish itself except it’s lost its tongue.”
Mr Chambers added: “It doesn’t affect humans other than if you do actually come across a live one and try and pick it up – they are quite vicious, they will deliver a good nip.”
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